By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Wisconsin middle school will never forget the moment Tyler Johnson ran into the end zone in the final seconds of a football game last week.

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Johnson, 13, is the Prescott Cardinals’ star player. He weighs 90 pounds, stands a little over 5 feet tall and he has fragile X syndrome, which is similar to autism.

But Johnson doesn’t have a problem fitting in. His kind heart and warm personality secured him a spot on his favorite team.

At practice, Johnson worked with his team on a key play – one that came in handy when Prescott took on River Falls last Tuesday. The play, however, was no surprise to River Falls. They played a part in making it work.

Joe Pavlichek, the co-coach of the seventh and eighth grade Cardinals, said the River Falls coach was eager to see Johnson’s play.

“The other coach, Scott, came up with the idea to see if we could do something against an opponent,” Pavlichek said.

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The Play

With 9 seconds to go, Johnson took the field with Pavlichek walking behind him.

“The QB got the ball and handed it off to Tyler. Tyler ran to the sideline; we were pointing to go the other way,” Pavlicheck said.

Johnson ran it for 40 yards, scored a touchdown, then spiked the ball and danced.

“I got the ball, and then I won. I won. I did. I did it. It was awesome!” Johnson said.

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While there’s no doubt Johnson was the real winner, River Falls ended up beating Prescott last Tuesday. Johnson’s big play, however, has got him thinking about joining the basketball team this winter.

Liz Collin